When Grace Meets You In The Vacuum Cleaner Aisle


All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
2 Corinthians 4:15 NLT

A few weeks ago while in the vacuum cleaner aisle at Target I was given the gift of grace. She was hurt, I was hurt. It was a misunderstanding, to say the least, but months had gone by and no progress was made. This was a ten year friendship that went off the rails fast and in the middle of ministry, motherhood and marriage it fell off to the side and in a season of hurt and frustration it was just not something I could deal with at the time.

Sounds harsh, I know, but when you are in the middle of a storm and life feels like your ship is going to go down, the first thing you start to do is throw things overboard. There went the gym, friendships that were outside your day to day bubble, and pretty much anything else that might lighten the load so you don’t go under in the season of storms.

I’m not proud to admit it, at all actually, but I just had to share with you what God did next.

After wading through the storms life got busy and although I wanted to reach out it was hard to take the chance of getting hurt again. Although I wanted to talk to her again I was too afraid. I would look on Facebook every so often to see how she was doing, looking for an opportunity to reach out, but I let the fear, hurt and insecurity keep me away.

Until a few weeks ago when I needed to purchase a new vacuum cleaner. Truth be told I hated to spend a bunch of money on a new vacuum so I stood in the vacuum cleaner aisle at Target for about forty minutes comparing the different vacuums and wrestling with how expensive they are when, turning right toward me in the aisle is this friend and her husband.

In that moment there wasn’t time to decide how to respond, react or anything else, there was just sheer joy at seeing each other again.

To finish reading “Grace In The Vacuum Cleaner Aisle” head on over to the Internet Cafe Devotions site…





Here’s a little Instagram pic I made for you…as a reminder that grace can find you anywhere! Enjoy!


Keeping First Things First In Ministry, A Guest Post Over At Upgrade With Dawn

FirstThingsFirst_MMashburn_Upgrade (1)

“Ministry can become all consuming, but it’s important to remember to keep first things first and that’s making your own family a priority,” Melissa says. “Every day you are given a gift—your family. Yes, you have a call to do more, serve more and love the people in your community more, but ultimately, your family is your first ministry.”

There are so many things to love about ministry, like being able to be a part of someone else’s faith journey, using your gifts and skills for the Kingdom, and doing something with your life that is far beyond anything you could do on your own.

Unfortunately the “job” can become overwhelming. You can find yourself stuck in a never-ending cycle of trying to catch up. 

After fifteen years in full time ministry at a local church in South Florida, I finally realize a few things about ministry:

  1. You will never get it all done. There will always be room for improvement or one more thing on your ministry task list.
  2. It’s not all up to me. You are there to do your part, but the whole thing doesn’t rest on your shoulders. If it’s God’s will, He will make it happen— with or without you.
  3. Your family is your first ministry. If you are married and have children, they need to see they are number one in your life, not your job or ministry.

…there’s so much more to share about this topic. To find out what happened when I took my eyes off what’s really most important come on over to Upgrade with Dawn.



Book Review: Crazy Little Thing Called Love, by Beth K. Vogt


My Thoughts About the Book:

Completely captivating. A journey for the senses and the emotions. Beth Vogt has taken her readers on a journey through the complicated emotions of young love, growing up, hurricanes and adventure. The story of Vanessa and Logan is one that will grab you by the heart strings and take you along while both sort out the complicated feelings that come along with listening to God’s plan for your life and also His nudging on your heart. I scooped this book up and enjoyed it on a long lazy Saturday afternoon and if you’re looking for a great book to enjoy then this is one you should check out today.

About the book:

Wedding bells and storm clouds collide in the first engaging novel in a brand-new series about destination weddings, the power of love, and the possible mishaps and missteps that happen on a couple’s journey down the aisle to “I do.”

Paramedic Vanessa Hollister has put her adolescence behind her, including the unwanted label of being the new kid in town over and over again, thanks to her father’s military career. She’s overcome what her mother called “the biggest mistake of her life” and is planning an elegant destination wedding in Destin, Florida with her new fiancé. But will the reappearance of her first husband from her what-were-you-thinking teenage elopement disrupt her dream of an idyllic beach wedding?

As a professional storm chaser, Logan Hollister is used to taking risks. However, a reckless decision during the last tornado season has him questioning the future of his team, the Stormmeisters. Coming face to face with his ex-wife eight years after their divorce compels him to confront his greatest regret: losing Vanessa. Does their past give him the right to interfere with her future?

A fast-moving, powerful hurricane throws Vanessa and Logan together as they evacuate to a storm shelter along with other residents of the Florida Gulf Coast. Forced to spend time together, the pair battles unexpected renewed feelings for each other.

Vanessa and Logan are faced with a choice: Should they accept, once and for all, their teenage marital mistake? Or is God offering them a second chance at happily ever after?

You can pick up a copy here: http://www.bethvogt.com/books/crazy-little-thing-called-love

BVogt-319About the Author:

Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A 2015 RITA® Finalist and a 2014 Carol Award finalist, Beth is a contemporary romance novelist with Howard Books. Her 2014 novel, “Somebody Like You,” was one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2014. In 2015 she introduced her destination wedding series with both an e-novella, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” (May) and a novel, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (June).


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I Got To Show You Grace, by Kelly O’Dell Stanley


by Kelly O’Dell Stanley

One Sunday morning when our son, Bobby, was six, he left our pew and walked straight to the front of the church, up the steps onto the platform, right in the middle of our worship. Pastor Nathan was sitting in a chair off to the side, putting the finishing touches on his sermon notes. Bobby circled around the worship leader, ignored the musicians, and climbed into the seat next to Nathan. With a sigh, he leaned back and then scooted to the edge of the chair. The big smile and hug Nathan gave him weren’t a surprise—Nathan had taught all the children that they were always welcome to come up front. That day, as I watched through tears, I finally understood the beauty of having direct access to God. Knowing that He welcomes me, and you, with joy. No matter who’s watching.

That’s what the Bible means when it says, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16, NLT)

It’s a perfect picture of how we are to approach God. Boldly, with the faith of a child. Not hesitating, not being hindered by all the reasons we—or someone else—might think we’re not worthy to be up there right next to the King. All that matters—the only thing—is that He loves us. He could be annoyed by the interruptions; He could shush us and say that he has more important things to do. But He doesn’t.

Some people have trouble coming to God because they don’t feel worthy. They quote scriptures like Psalm 22:6 (“But I am a worm and not a man. I am scorned and despised by all!”). Their understanding of mankind’s (general) and their own (specific) sin, paired with an awareness of the holiness of God, cripples them, making them afraid to trust that He really wants them. Because they are convinced they don’t deserve to be there.

Somehow, I didn’t have that same struggle. I knew I couldn’t earn my way to a relationship with God, but like my son, I approached God with confidence. I took the Scriptures at face value: “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners …  So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” (Romans 5:8-12)

But then.

My mom was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer and I started a three-year roller-coaster ride. I claimed to have faith, but I was as dry and parched as a desert inside. When it came time to pray, I had nothing to say. Bitterness and sorrow and pain replaced any words I might have had. After Mom died, I built the walls even higher—fortifying them, adding a moat filled with alligators, for good measure—to protect myself from being hurt again. I rolled my eyes when someone at church would stand up and testify that they had been healed. Or even that they believed in healing.

I wasn’t sure if God didn’t answer or if He gave me the wrong answer. I began to doubt whether He was able to effect change at all. I hadn’t just lost Mom. Not to sound overly dramatic, but I’d lost everything I believed in. My grief made me incapable of seeing the truth. And the fickleness of my faith filled me with shame.
I had ceased to be the child approaching God without hesitation, or even the temperamental teenager stamping her foot and refusing to look at Him—and turned into that lowly earthworm. Why would God want me back? Once I realized how much I wanted—needed—Him, I didn’t feel like I had the right to ask Him. Because I had rejected Him before.

And then one Sunday morning at church we sang a song that broke through my defenses. “Through it all, through it all… I learned to trust in Jesus, I learned to trust in God.” I felt the walls crumbling as I thought-prayed, “No I didn’t. I failed miserably. Lord, I’m so sorry.”

Immediately I felt His response. “But I got to show you grace!

Notice, He didn’t say that He had to. Nor that He did it grudgingly. Instead, it was like our magnificent, holy God was a little child Himself, hopping from one foot to the other, giddy with excitement at the gift He was thrilled to give me.

The one I didn’t deserve.

But that didn’t matter to God. All that mattered was that He wanted me back. He allowed me to march right up to that altar and lean into Him, to scoot close to the edge of His chair. To look into His face and see the kindness in His smile.

And to take a deep breath of relief, knowing I was right where I belonged. Filled with, wrapped in, emboldened by, and surrounded by His unfathomable grace.


stanley_kelly_high resBIO: Kelly O’Dell Stanley is a graphic designer, writer, and author of Praying Upside Down: A creative PUD cover finalprayer experience to transform your time with God. With 25 years of experience in advertising, three kids ranging from 21 to 14, and a husband of 24 years, she’s learned to look at life in unconventional ways—sometimes even upside down. In 2013, she took top honors in Writer’s Digest’s Inspirational Writing Competition. Full of doubt and full of faith, she constantly seeks new ways to see what’s happening all around her in her small-town Indiana home. Download free prayer prompt calendars at www.prayingupsidedown.com.

If you’d like to purchase Kelly’s new book, “Praying Upside Down” you can pick up a copy here: AmazonBarnes & Noble,  christianbooks.com, Lifeway, Books-a-Million, Target, Parable, iTunes, and others.

You can also find Kelly here:

Blog: www.prayingupsidedown.com
Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/ KellyODellStanley
Twitter @kellyostanley
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ kellyostanley/

Book Review: The Day I Met Jesus

The Day I Met Jesus


My Thoughts About the Book:

The Day I Met Jesus – The Revealing Diaries of Five Women from the Gospels will absolutely change the way you read your Bible and the way you will see, hear, smell and feel the love of Jesus in your everyday. I wept as I read through their stories. Mary DeMuth brings such depth, character and insight into the every day lives of these 5 women. Yes, chances are that you’ve read about them and maybe even “know of them” but after reading this book you will have a heart to heart connection with these women like you never dreamed you could.

I love the pairing of Mary’s storytelling with the heart and passion pursuit of truth, details and facts that Frank Viola brings to the table. I never would have dreamed that this partnership would be so amazing, but after reading, soaking, enjoying and devouring this book I would say that it was a divine connection.

Run, don’t walk to wherever you need to go to get a copy of this book. I have treasured my time in it and can’t wait to go back and re-read it again. As a women’s ministry leader this one book that I’m absolutely going to make sure every woman I know hears about. It’s really just that amazing! Well done Mary & Frank, this was spot on incredible!

About the book:

Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ met face-to-face with people just like you. Broken, imperfect, sometimes fearful and without hope. The Day I Met Jesus is a beautifully crafted narrative that chronicles the remarkable encounters of five women in the Gospels who were desperate to find wholeness, security, and purpose. Like all of us, these women struggled with the regrets of their pasts, the stresses of their presents, and the worries of their tomorrows.

Join Mary DeMuth and Frank Viola on a fascinating journey back in time as they retell the dramatic accounts of five women who met Jesus. Each narrative is told from each woman’s unique perspective, yet tightly grounded in the Gospel accounts and faithful to first-century history. Elegantly written and profoundly stirring, this book blends creative narrative with uncommon insight, spiritual depth, and practical application.

If you are someone who seeks a renewal of hope, faith, and love, The Day I Met Jesus will make your Bible come to life and usher you into a fresh encounter with your Lord.

You can purchase a copy of the book here.

About the Authors:

FrankViola-LargerFrank Viola has helped thousands of people around the world to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and enter into a more vibrant and authentic experience of church. He has written many books on these themes, including God’s Favorite Place on Earth and From Eternity to Here. His blog, frankviola.org, is ranked in the top ten of all Christian blogs on the Web today.
Mary DeMuth is a former church planter in France and the author of more than sixteen nonfiction and fiction books. A sought-after speaker and longtime blogger, she has overcome (through Jesus’s healing) a difficult childhood full of neglect, abuse, and familial dysfunction to become a living example of what it means to live uncaged. She lives in Texas with her family.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”